This summer has been a painful one for Arsenal fans. As we faltered in the latter stages of last season, achieving 17th place in the Premier League form table for the final 6 games, Gooners were excited for a summer of change.
Undoubtedly, much has changed over the summer. However, a lot of the change has been negative, or at the very least it is shown with a negative slant by the media. Apparently two of our best players want out, a couple of youngsters and fringe players are leaving without replacement and our notoriously weak defence has only been bolstered with a player from League one. Add to that the fact that the fans booed the team in the Emirates Cup, Squillaci has managed to get even worse and Nicklas Bendtner may never play for Arsenal again. Then we take a look at our pre-season friendlies: P6 W2 D3 L1 - hardly impressive, but it is true that such matches are meaningless.
Waking up this morning, I should have expected some anti-Arsenal media stories. Naively, I hoped that the media would forget to mention that we lost, and forget about our transfer problems this summer. How silly of me.
The three Arsenal stories that are circling most media sites and newspapers are in the title: Arsenal lose, Nasri argues with boss, Fabregas to pay to leave.
Of course the media is correct in saying that losing last night was poor preparation for our assault on the Premier League title. But most newspapers are failing to include the positives of last night’s first half performance, which was promising. Add to that the fact that our second half team was full of fringe players, and you can understand how we narrowly lost to a Benfica side with some tricky players.
But there were other negatives from our match in Portugal. Robin van Persie, Vermaelen and Gibbs all have knocks. Wenger said:
“It is an ankle problem [for van Persie], I don’t know how bad it is. Gibbs has a muscular [thigh] problem and Vermaelen has a slight back problem.”
Samir Nasri could be set to leave for Manchester City after an argument with Wenger. Supposedly, Wenger is now considering selling Nasri due to this argument and Samir’s poor performances in the Emirates Cup, although our manager has rubbished the second reason.
Letting him leave for a fee in the region of £25 million makes sense – we would also save around £5 million in wages, which combines to £30 million. Suddenly, a deal for Mata and a centre back seems all the more likely, and we have got rid of a player who doesn’t seem to want to play for the club.
Of the lack of recent transfer activity, Wenger has said:
“We work very hard, we are non-stop working throughout the summer. I am positive because we have good quality and a style of play that is known by the players.
“Ideally I would have finished all [our transfer dealings by now] but it doesn’t work like that.”
He also implied that something might happen next week, but don’t put your money on it. Further to that, making a signing only days before our match at Newcastle means that the new Gunner won’t have time to settle in, so he probably wouldn’t get a game for a while.
The other piece of bad news concerns Cesc Fabregas. The Daily Mail is reporting that Cesc is prepared to give up £4 million in bonuses to force through the deal to Barcelona. Barca’s latest transfer offer is rumoured to be around £32 million, with £5 million in add-ons. Fabregas has not featured in any of our pre-season matches, and Wenger has said:
“He’s not injured. He’s training normally but hasn’t played since Bolton, which is two and a half months. The situation with Cesc is not sorted out but I don’t want to talk about it any more.”
Our manager seems very frustrated with the situation, like most Arsenal fans. If Cesc really does want to pay in order to leave, that will represent a massive issue of loyalty for Arsenal. Our own captain is forcing through a deal to leave – how embarrassing is that?
However, there are no quotes indicating that this story is true. Hopefully it is just media speculation, after all it did come from the Daily Mail.
Let’s hope next week gives us something to smile about.